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Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think
Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think
by Steven Kotler
Edition: Hardcover
92 used & new from $6.31

102 of 112 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Important "Post-Scarcity" Perspective, February 21, 2012
"Abundance" is a deeply optimistic book that suggests radical new technologies may soon transform society and lead to an era where the concept of scarcity no longer dominates economic and social thinking. The authors believe that advances now on the horizon could potentially solve many of the world's major problems by the year 2035.

The book includes a wealth of material on specific technologies that the authors feel may revolutionize energy (solar, algae-based biofuels and next generation nuclear), food production (genetic engineering, vertical farming and in-vitro meats), water scarcity (desalination using nanotechnology filters, rather than today's inefficient thermal or reverse osmosis plants) and health care (artificially intelligent "doctors", robotic nurses and cheap diagnostic chips) to mention just a few. The authors also suggest that much of this progress will be driven by independent inventors (who they call "DIY innovators") and wealthy technology philanthropists.

I'd urge everyone to also read The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future, a book that looks at many of the same technologies and trends as "Abundance" but really delves into the impact on the economy, incomes and the job market, and offers a different perspective. Both these books raise issues and discuss technologies that could be of transformative importance over the next 10-20 years. They are books that everyone should read.

I've rated Abundance highly because I think it introduces a very important perspective that should be a part of any discussion about the future. Having said that, I also think it has significant limitations and needs to be supplemented with other reading and research. The book's promise of future abundance relies heavily on technologies that will reduce the need for human labor: for example, artificial intelligence, robotics and 3d printing. If the authors' projections are correct, then those technologies will also eliminate millions of jobs. Many people, especially those without advanced educations, may be left with little in the way of marketable skills and no obvious way to earn an income. The authors do note this issue, but relegate it to about 3 pages in the appendix. It deserves much more than that; even if the future is abundant, the distribution of resources will still be of critical importance to individuals and society.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 14, 2012 9:17 PM PDT

Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942
Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941-1942
by Ian W. Toll
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $24.14
175 used & new from $2.91

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Naval History that Should Interest Anyone, February 20, 2012
"Pacific Crucible" is the first book I have read focusing specifically on naval history; this has simply not been an area that I've previously been motivated to explore. However, this book was recommended to me by a friend, and I quickly found myself entirely engrossed.

The book does a great job of covering virtually every aspect of the Pacific War: the lives of average sailors, the aircraft and naval technologies, the strategic decisions and thinking of admirals Nimitz and King as well as their Japanese counterparts, the political decisions by Roosevelt and Churchill, as well as very vivid, blow-by-blow accounts of major battles. The part covering the battle of Midway is especially good, to the extent that I am now also starting to read The Battle of Midway (Pivotal Moments in American History).

I also really enjoyed the focus on the code-breakers who were able to decode the Japanese military communications and predict with great precision the Japanese assault on Midway. Were it not for this feat, the battle would quite likely have gone the other way. The individuals who pulled this off certainly deserve far more historic visibility than they currently have!

Overall, a great book that I would highly recommend even to people who feel they have no particular interest in or passion for naval history. I sincerely hope the author is planning another book to cover the period from 1942 on...

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